Talent-starved Silicon Valley now recruiting high school kids


While teens aren’t overrunning Silicon Valley yet, talent-starved tech companies are reaching out to kids to fill spots in their internship programs. Facebook says it has just begun to recruit teens before their freshman year of college. LinkedIn (LNKD) opened its summer program to high schoolers two years ago; Airbnb has had interns as young as 16. “Talent is our No. 1 operating priority and our most important asset,” LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said on his company’s most recent earnings call, welcoming this summer’s crop of interns.

We’ve seen it in sports. Teams try to identify prodigies at the earliest possible age. Top high school kids are pulled in to play professional sports. Arguably one of the best soccer players in the world, Lionel Messi, was contracted by FC Barcelona at the age of 11 and moved from his home town in Argentina to Spain.

This same competitiveness has come to tech. Tech companies and government agencies are visiting (and sponsoring) science fairs, looking to identify and bring on board blossoming talent before their competitors.

As long as the situation is handled responsibly, as long as each child’s welfare and educational needs come first, this has the potential to be a win-win.

  • Moeskido


  • Far too many young people in tech are cannon fodder.

  • arcsine

    There’s at least two( negative) frameworks this fits. First, a college sports model where young people work and create vast amounts of wealth that the organization hoards. Second, a ‘new media’/intern model where starting-level workers are asked to work for ‘exposure'(no/little $). This model is usually focused on the short term & turnover/churn is high.

    • I don’t think the low-paid intern model is universal. My friend’s son interned at Intel and his intern salary was higher than his dad’s (non-tech industry) salary.

      • arcsine

        Cool. You’re right that not all interns are unpaid/low-paid. I hope the interns in these programs do as well as your son. Too bad this story had no details about the salaries these ‘talent starved’ companies pay these young recruits.